On the Trail of Lofa, Bigfoot of the Chickasaw
His name is Tisho Minko, the voice of the chief of the Chickasaw, the Lords of the Mississippi. He was the last of the great warrior Chickasaw chiefs, one who had worn the two white arrows in his hair since his youth. He had never been defeated in battle and his pursuit of enemies who dare to raid us was always been successful. That is, until the winter of 1815.
He had just returned from the Creek War, fighting with the troops of Andrew Jackson. Our crops of corn, pumpkins, beans and squash had been harvested, the animals of our woodlands are fat and their winter hides were full and thick. Though th Chickasaw were so feared by all of their enemies that they no longer dare raid their villages, there was still one enemy who did not fear the Chickasaw. An enemy that was so fierce, that our warriors spoke his name only in whispers. His name was Lofa, the creature who flayed the skins of his victims and who stole our women.
After two of our warriors failed to return from their hunts, Tisho Minko and others trailed them and found their bodies, at least what was left of them. Our warriors bore their bodies back to the village and the wails of our women cried out to the heavens.
The women washed their bodies and we buried them in their grave cabins.
A week later, Chula’s daughter vanished one evening while gathering wood, then Teata, the wife of Piominko could not be found. She had gone to sleep next to her husband, but when he woke, she was gone.
Piominko and Tisho Minko and the other warriors gathered for council.
Piominko said, “The hairy beast in my grandfather’s stories has returned. He said that the creature came to our lands the same time as the white man. Itawamba has seen his tracks in our fields. What should be done?”
Tisho Minko, smoked his pipe thoughtfully, and then said, “I will hunt him, and I will kill him!”
“Who shall go with you?” Piominko asked.
“I will go alone. No group of hunters has ever seen him, but the old men say that a single hunter can find him. I will leave now. There is a full moon tonight. See to your families. Post a warrior on the edge of the fields, and have another circle the village at night until I return.”
The men voiced assent, stood, and dispersed to their homes.
Tisho Minko strode from the village, long knife and tomahawk in his belt, and his flintlock rifle in his hands. The tracks in the fields were westerly, toward the Mississippi. The sun was setting as he entered the tree line and the darkness of the forest. Soon, there was no more trail visible, in spite of the Big Winter Moon above him. He sat down, his back against a large oak, rifle in his lap, and he listened to the night sounds. Before the moon had set in the west, a deer raced by him, spooked by something it had seen or smelled. Then he heard the heavy footsteps rustle the leaves, moving his way. He studied the dark silhouette, as tall as Tisho Minko himself. The Lofa shuffled on, snorting and blowing, and then stopped in a moonbeam that had sliced through the forest canopy. Tisho Minko raised his rifle and was about to fire when he heard the rustle of leaves. Another Lofa shuffled through the forest and stood next to the first.
Tisho Minko was not sure if the other would attack or flee. He aimed at the one he could see clearly in the moonlight and fired. The Lofa fell. Tisho Minko rose to his feet with a war cry and drew and knife and axe from his belt.
The second Lofa rushed forward near him and then stopped as if to study him. The creature grabbed the leg of the fallen Lofa and dragged his fellow back into the darkness of the woods.
Tisho Minko reloaded his rifle, removed his scarf from his neck, knelt and touched the pool of blood where the Lofa had fallen, and decided to return to the village and share his story of how he had killed the Lofa. He would take the blood-soaked scarf to the village shaman and prophet.
However, his story would be a mixture of good and bad: Now, he knew there were two, and probably more Lofas in the land of the Chickasaw. Would the Lofa seek revenge for the death of the one he killed tonight? That is the Chickasaw way. The soul of any person slain by enemies will haunt others until revenge is taken.
He did not know when, but he resolved someday to return with the other warriors to see if they could find the camp of the Lofa. It is the duty of the Chickasaw warriors, the Lords of the Mississippi, to protect the people from all enemies, even the Lofa.